There is no doubt that in turnaround situations and times of crisis the last thing that is needed is a leader who takes their time to make decisions and engages with everybody and anybody. What is needed is the ability to quickly assimilate information and make and communicate decisions accordingly. An autocratic style maybe, but crises require strong leadership from the very top.
Fortunately turnarounds and crises aren’t the norm, although ‘heroic deeds’ seem to take all the headlines making them appear so. No, the norm is far more mundane. Leaders are responsible for ensuring the continuation and preferably growth of their businesses and implementing necessary change along the way.
Whether it’s the CEO of a large multi-national or the leader of a work-team what is required is a consistency of approach over a period of time so that their team members start to appreciate what’s needed and what they’re jointly aiming at. The last thing anyone wants is goals that are forever changing (a self generated crisis doesn’t make any sense at all) or seemingly arbitrary changes in processes or procedures.
Once the leader has put in place a clear Vision and aligned Mission that everyone understands and can relate to the leader’s role needs to switch to one that encourages their senior people towards that Vision. The temptation of course is to try and get there in one big step but if that were achievable it wouldn’t be much of a Vision really. The development of a Strategy and Plan are obvious but it’s the way those senior managers in the organization or team behave and operate with their own people that matters most.
It’s highly unlikely that continuing to do the same as before will help an organization move positively towards achieving a new Vision. Things need to change and the leaders in the organization need to change their ways of working. Not a comfortable thought for many people. Again, the temptation may be to change the senior team and bring in new ones who operate in the way the overall leader expects them to but that risks losing invaluable experience and, remember, this isn’t a crisis, it’s just trying to improve things.
Gentle persuasion, coaxing and nudging people in the right direction are far more productive methods of encouraging gradual and sustainable changes in behavior. And if that starts from the top and flows throughout the organization then movement towards a new Vision and goals becomes unstoppable. It may be less dramatic than ‘heroic deeds’ but is far more achievable for most organizations.
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